Sweden is a country located on the Scandinavian Peninsula in northern Europe.
The name was derived from the Svear, or Suiones, a people mentioned as early as 98 CE by the Roman author Tacitus. The country’s ancient name was Svithiod. Stockholm has been the permanent capital since 1523.
Christmas market in the capital, Stockholm.
Sweden occupies the greater part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, which it shares with Norway. The land slopes gently from the high mountains along the Norwegian frontier eastward to the Baltic Sea.
The country has a 1,000-year-long continuous history as a sovereign state, but its territorial expanse changed often until 1809. Today it is a constitutional monarchy with a well-established parliamentary democracy that dates from 1917. Swedish society is ethnically and religiously very homogeneous, although recent immigration has created some social diversity.
Historically, Sweden rose from backwardness and poverty into a highly developed post-industrial society and advanced welfare state with a standard of living and life expectancy that rank among the highest in the world.
Sweden long ago disavowed the military aggressiveness that once involved its armies deeply in Europe’s centuries of dynastic warfare. It has chosen instead to play a balancing role among the world’s conflicting ideological and political systems.
It is for this reason that Swedish statesmen have often been sought out to fill major positions in the United Nations. At peace since 1814, it has followed the doctrine, enunciated in every document on foreign policy since World War II, of “nonalignment in peace aiming at neutrality in war.”
Sweden lies to the southwest of Finland. A long coastline forms the country’s eastern border, extending along the Gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea; a narrow strait, known as The Sound, separates it from Denmark in the south, Norway lies to the west.